When you’re feeling down, anxious, miserable or depressed, it can feel natural to want to hide in your room, in your bed, away from the world. Isolating can feel safe and comforting, especially if an event took place to trigger dark or traumatic emotions. But when we continuously remove ourselves from the company of others and the supports in our lives, we fall deeper into a mental health warzone that will keep us from healing.
Mental health issues stemming from depression and anxiety feed off isolation. Think of them like a stray cat. The cat comes to your door, you feed the cat once, and it keeps coming back for more. The cat doesn’t understand buying it food costs time and money. All it’s looking for is the fix—the food.
Mental health issues can act in the same way. Depression and anxiety want to make you think being alone is the best thing for you, not because it will make you feel better, but because it will benefit the mental illness. It wants to stay alive just like the cat. But the mental and physical energy we expend to keep feeding that cat is what deteriorates our self-worth even more. Now, that’s not to say that spending time alone is bad or wrong. It’s important to spend time alone to recharge. But if being alone is all we want to do, we need to start asking why.
The Paradox of Isolation
Being alone can feel good because we don’t have to try. We don’t have to put on a happy face, we don’t have to pretend, and we don’t have to worry about what others will think about our thoughts and behaviors. We can truly be ourselves in all moments without judgment. We can sit in the pit, we can stare at a wall, and we can cry. We simply don’t have to engage with anyone or anything when we are alone. But this is where the paradox comes in. It may feel good and safe being alone, but when we are alone, our internal narrative that craves peace can quickly shift to judgment.
Remember the cat. It wants to be fed; therefore, it doesn’t want you to change this behavior which in this case is isolating. It’s going to start telling you lies that, without another person to bounce things off, you start to believe. It might start by reinforcing isolation. Then it might tell you why it’s a great idea. But here’s where we find the shift. It tells you to stay isolated because no one likes you. Because you don’t really have any friends. Because sports aren’t fun anyway. And you’re not good at painting.
Do you see how quickly isolation reinforces itself? You begin to rationalize being alone, and the reasons become dark and negative. And the more times you tell yourself these narratives, the more you start to believe them.
Why It’s Important to Reach Out for Help
Depression and anxiety are tricksters. They make us think and feel things that aren’t real, but to the one suffering, the reality they are experiencing is a world of hurt that feels never-ending. People suffering from depression and anxiety can feel like they have no friends, no one likes them, and or no one cares, but just like the cat, these are the lies that are keeping it well-fed.
This is where outside support is vital to rewriting the internal narratives and finding joy. Talking to a friend, having dinner with family members, and going to therapy can quickly shift those negative words and reinforce the fact that people care about you. The more you isolate, the more junk you’re keeping in your head and heart. If you start talking about these feelings and narratives to others, they can help you see where the mental illness is looking for food and reinforce the love and support that is awaiting you.
It can feel like an impossible feat to reach out for help when you’re suffering from depression or anxiety, but the truth is, you don’t have to live in that space. However, you do have to admit you’re suffering. Healthy living means yes, encountering some lows and some bad days, but healthy living means enjoying life more often than not and finding beauty in daily activities. If you’re struggling to find joy, it may be time for help.
It’s okay to feel sad or anxious. These feelings are simply human. But if these feelings are causing you to isolate and endure negative self-talk, it’s time to reach out for help. The Bougainvilla House has created a safe and welcoming environment for adolescents and their families which focuses on helping you overcome your feelings and connect you back to the beauty of the world. With a variety of outpatient treatment options and individualized programs, we are confident we can get you feeling healthy and happy. Call now to find a support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337